So Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that they are going to backpedal away from their recent changes to privacy rules and give users simplified controls over their information. The rollout of the "Open Graph" and "instant personalization" features after last month's f8 developer conference was met with howls of disapproval across the online universe, including many calls for a mass exodus from Facebook.
Long time watchers of FB will be experiencing a touch of deja vu right about... now. We've seen all this before with the debut of "Beacon" back in 2007. That was the brilliant initiative that managed to spoil a whole bunch of Christmases by revealing what FB users had bought online for their significant others. The problem then, as with the most recent PR disaster, is that Facebook decided to force all of its users to participate. The policy-- known as "opt-out"-- required users who didn't want to have the new features turn them off.
In the case of the "Open Graph" features this process turned out to be so complicated that the whole control scheme has to be revamped.
Here's a better solution as the future unfolds: give users the right to "opt-in" instead. Sure, it's harder to make a pitch to advertisers and partners based on the hope that your half-billion users will adopt new features... but by letting users "opt-in" instead of forcing them to use the new features FB would be demonstrating that it believes in the value these features have for its community.
Show some confidence M.Z.! For better or worse your website is a big part of a lot of people's lives. Start respecting the role you play, and we'll respect you back.
[No, not really. I just wanted to get your hopes up.]
So here's the question cats and kittens: how long untill Mark Zuckerberg and Co. play this tune and dance this dance again? Drop a comment below or hit us up on Twitter @youthradio.